Aspen knits during class to help focus, and to help people. USA TODAY
When Lauren’s nana passed away, her friend gave her a gift with a message she could treasure forever. Humankind
As the 22nd minute approached, the crowd rose to pay homage to a teammate who'd passed away. No one would forget the unplanned tribute that unfolded on the field. Humankind
Belmont student Noah Jack Cummins, who has autism, learned to sing before he could talk, thanks to Sheryl Crow's duet with Kid Rock called "Picture." Humankind
Madeline wanted her grandma to have as much support as possible during her chemo treatments. So she found her late grandfather’s favorite shirt and made something that would wrap her grandma in warmth and love during each treatment. Humankind
Bobby isn’t technically Cami’s father, but he’s been her daddy since she was four years old. Wochit
Thanks to his new prosthetic, the Force is strong with this one. Humankind
On graduation day, Trishia couldn’t help but reflect on her years as parent, teacher and caregiver to the young man who shared the stage with her. Humankind
Two Iowa boys, each missing part of an arm, have formed an incredible friendship Humankind
When this school realized many kids wouldn’t have anyone to attend a breakfast with dad event, a local pastor stepped in to help. He never imagined how many men would show up after his plea for help. Humankind
The tension on her bowstring is about 20 pounds. And she relies completely on her jaw to pull it. Humankind
This mom came face to face with the teen who murdered her son. Courtroom veterans had never seen a response like hers. Humankind
His students told him to imagine he was Harry Potter going into a Quidditch match. What they had in store for him was truly magical. Wochit
He's riding backwards and paying it forward with the smiles he brings to people's faces. Humankind
Kristi lost her hair while undergoing chemotherapy. Her daughter Rose, who has alopecia, showed her how beautiful and strong they are together. Wochit
What better way to pass the time at the airport? Two girls got into a cute dance competition with a kind airport employee Humankind
Jeffrey has been clipping and sewing for months, but putting a smile on 600 children’s faces makes it all worth it. Humankind
People thank Officer Norman regularly for being a great member of his community. Now, he's thanking a few of the people in his life. #shareyourthanks Humankind
Dan Summers has taken care of wife Joan at home for the past 17 years. Joan has late-stage Alzheimer's disease. Humankind
Mike, who's been delivering toys and gifts to Kentucky children since 1975, lets son, Jordan, take his place so the Christmas tradition goes on.
Heather and her volunteers distribute scarfs, gloves and hats by stringing them around town for whoever needs them. Humankind
When the Grinch threatened to steal Christmas, TyLon knew just what to do. He called the police and brought in a real-life Cindy Lou Who. Humankind
He used to call her teacher. Now he calls her mom. Humankind
Elliot has been having a tough time at school for being bullied for his style. Listen to him thank his new friends who lifted him up with a pair of very special earrings. Humankind
Amanda lost her son during pregnancy. To remember him, she takes a teddy bear memorializing him wherever she goes. That includes Christmas photos with Santa. Humankind
- Blind student knits during class to help charity
- Special bear keeps grandma's memory alive
- Soccer team ensures teammate will never be forgotten
- Sheryl Crow can't believe the impact she had on a singer with autism
- Grandma faces chemo wrapped in the arms of her late husband
- Surprise adoption papers have us all in tears
- Star Wars fan gets the storm trooper hand he dreamed of
- Mom and son graduate college together
- Viral video changes young boy's outlook on life
- School event makes history with male mentors
- One of the world’s best student archers fires with her teeth
- Mom comes face-to-face with her son’s killer in court
- Teacher granted magical gift of seeing color
- The “Bike Guy” brings smiles to commuters stuck in traffic
- Mom with breast cancer and daughter with alopecia show us bald is beautiful
- This spontaneous dance competition is too cute for words
- Teacher surprises every child in his school with handmade scarf
- Officer Tommy Norman thanks loved ones
- Devoted husband cares for wife with Alzheimer’s
- As dad fights cancer, son carries on Santa tradition
- Gift bags left around town to wrap needy in kindness
- Officer saves Christmas for kid who’s scared of the Grinch
- Foster kid finds new home with loving teacher
- Bullied boy thanks the people who lifted him up
- Santa helps grieving mother remember her son
Once when my son was 5, we got into a prolonged debate about whether the saxophone belonged in the brass section or the woodwinds section of the orchestra.
I was really confident about my answer, because, after all, saxophones are made of brass and look very much like other instruments in the brass section. Also, because I’m an adult and he was a child and adults are traditionally right, or so they think.
But would you believe the saxophone is a woodwind? It’s absurd and clearly I’m not wrong, whoever categorized it is wrong, but the point is that he was technically right.
He’s incredibly intelligent, and not just in a my-kid-is-smart way, but in a verifiably tested what-the-heck-do-we-do-now kind of way. He also collects knowledge like others collect action figures — the more rare or obscure, the better.
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After a few more incidents like the woodwinds vs. brass debate, I started to doubt the veracity of everything I thought I knew, and definitely lost my confidence in correcting him. Once I was adamant about how there was no gravity in space (this one I knew because astronauts were always floating around up there) and he very patiently explained the concept of microgravity to me, using real world examples of roller coasters and trying to clarify how and why gravity is different on different planets. I don’t really remember how or why, because I wasn’t at all sure that it was true, but he was so certain that I finally just accepted it.
Now he’s 14, an age for being a know-it-all in general, on top of actually knowing a lot. He’s also started to realize that I accept his intelligence at face value, having lost all confidence in my own. And he takes advantage of that.
“Did you know dabbing is illegal in Thailand?” he said recently, referring to a dance move.
“That’s absurd!” I said. “It must be cultural. I wonder what started the need to legislate that?”
He often drops these little tidbits of knowledge into random conversations, it’s like living with a walking, breathing trivia game.
“Did you hear they’re making a reboot of 'Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,' but about him dealing with PTSD after the Gulf War?” he announced on another day.
“Are you serious? That’s ridiculous — this whole Hollywood reboot thing is out of control. Who would even want to watch that?” I went on a rant about what Ferris Bueller and his carefree antics meant to my generation and how disappointing it was to invite tragedy into that.
“How weird is it that turtles can temporarily share a shell while mating?” he stated casually one day after I picked him up from school. That one stopped me. We have turtles and they seem very attached to their shells.
“Are you sure about that? I mean, hermit crabs, probably, but turtles? Think of how Salmonella looks in her shell, she couldn't leave it…” I trailed off, considering the logistics of that but not entirely discounting it.
He screwed up his face and laughed. “I’m kidding, mom. I’ve been making this stuff up for days. Dabbing isn’t illegal in Thailand, there’s no Ferris Bueller reboot, and of course turtles can’t leave their shell — how on earth do you believe these things? You’re a reasonably intelligent adult and you’re like, yep, maybe turtles can leave their shells!”
It was an important — and entertaining — lesson in critical thinking and not believing everything you hear. The sort of lesson the parent is supposed to teach the child, and not vice versa. But honestly, I was just happy to be called reasonably intelligent, and to know that Ferris Bueller won’t be forced to grow up after all.
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Ashley McCann editorializes the messes and mayhem of motherhood as a columnist and blogger. Named to Ignite Social Media's "100 Women Bloggers You Should Read," her candid humor and frank advice puts a fresh spin on modern family life.